They are something that we all have to deal with, but as a cyclist it can be especially daunting to use the roundabouts. Is that car going to stop? Can I make it right now? When should I try to merge into the lane? All of these questions, and more, shall be answered after the break!
When used correctly, the roundabout provides a wonderfully efficient bit of infrastructure that both helps to calm traffic and keep it moving smoothly in a congested area. Heading west out of Downtown Raleigh along Hillsborough Street, it is possible to encounter up to three of these interesting intersections within a few blocks. One of the problems with roundabouts is that some people seem to have funny ideas about how to use them, such as yielding when they have the right of way or stopping the the middle of the intersection to allow someone else in. The other main problem is visibility, especially for cyclists. You can click here for an NCDOT brochure about how to correctly use a roundabout.
In addition to following the usual vehicular traffic laws, there are a few things you can do to make your experience as a cyclist in roundabouts safer:
– As always, try to be visible and be sure to use bright front and rear lights if you are riding at night.
– Before entering the intersection, get in the center of the lane you will be using and take the lane through the entirety of the roundabout. Motorists can and will try to squeeze by you if they feel there is enough space, and in the middle of the roundabout is a very dangerous place to do so.
– When interacting with motorists in the roundabout, try to make eye contact or wave at drivers, to confirm that they have acknowledged your presence.
– While exiting, continue to take the lane until the road has opened up enough to allow for safe passage of both yourself and motor vehicles.
– If riding with a group, avoid riding more than two abreast through the intersection.
These tips should help to make your roundabout experience safer and less stressful.